‘How NALDA is reviving rural farming, engaging more youths’

As Nigeria continues its quest to achieve food security through engaging more youths in agriculture and deploying modern technologies, the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) is at the forefront of this drive. In this piece, COLLINS NNABUIFE, highlights some of the recent activities of NALDA in engaging youths in farming, especially in the rural areas.

BEFORE now, an average Nigerian youth wants to relocate to the city in search for white collar job, while abandoning farming for the aged in the rural communities.

This move made the country witness shortfall in youth participation in agriculture, also, food security of the nation was threatened, while crime rates in the city increased because majority of these migrating youth get disappointed in the cities, as they resort to crimes.

The National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) through its intervention programs especially in the rural communities has outlined plans to engage youths in agriculture.

In this programs, youths are trained on how to treat agriculture as a business, empowered with the necessary inputs, in their areas of specialization.

The format deployed here is one that both the farmer and the NALDA shares from the profit of the investment. While the farmer smile to the bank with his proceeds, NALDA empowers more farmers with its proceed.

NALDA is a Nigerian government intervention program saddled with the mandate of harnessing the full potentials of the vast arable lands in Nigeria, empowering smallholder and large Scale farmers and mechanize, support the drive for food and fiber security while assisting in diversifying the nation’s economy, improving household incomes and enhancing revenue mobilization and generation nationwide.

Just recently, NALDA commenced a program for rabbit farming which is expected to engage 17,000 youths especially in the South.

The Executive Secretary of NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne said NALDA would make available the rabbits, cage, vaccine and training for the youths free, while the beneficiaries are expected to return the kitten when the rabbit delivers so that it would be used to empower others.

“So we’re engaging our youths into rabbit farming, NALDA has designed a program to take in 17,000 rabbit farmers especially in the south, and we have commenced the engagement in some states.

“All our programs are in phases, in this first phase, Imo, Abia, Cross River and Oyo have received rabbits and young farmers have been engaged into rabbit farming”, he said.

He further said that NALDA would also buy the urine, dungs and skin of the rabbits from the youths, which is also a source of income for the beneficiaries.

“From the meat, the hide, which is the skin, the dungs and the urine, they are all money-making machine.

“The program is very simple, from the first day the farmer start rearing rabbits, they start making money from that day, from the collection of the urine, to the collection of the dungs which will be used as fertilizer, their money will keep accumulating, at the end of the month, we’ll pay them based on the liters and kilogram of what they have submitted to NALDA office at their various states before the offtaker takes it”, he explained.

Furthermore, he explained “you can see that the benefits of rearing rabbits, before we go into the processing the sale of the animal itself is another means of income, the meat is one of the best meat because it’s white meat and it’s good for those that are having cholesterol issues, that also will be source of income, then the hide which is the skin is also in high demand for designers.

“So you can see the benefits of engaging our people in rabbit rearing, it is not common in Nigeria, but diversification is the way to go, and agriculture is the direction the world is heading to.

“The beauty about this is that it doesn’t have much hazard, it doesn’t require so much, rabbit virtually eats everything and it doesn’t require too much space, so you can farm it at the smallest space you have in your house whether you are a landlord or a tenant and it doesn’t litter the environment.

On the income from the farming, Prince Ikonne said each beneficiary is expected to earn an average of N100,000 monthly from the sales of the urine, dungs, skin and the rabbit itself.

“At least the average of N100,000 a month somebody will be making from rearing rabbits from all these products, and you can see the level it will get to cater for families and homes, so it is something we have engaged in, and we will keep expanding”.

In another development, NALDA said it’s partnering the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to train Corps Members on new  farming techniques with value – chain benefits.

This is part of the agency’s mandate towards the implementation of Federal Government’s agenda to ensure food sufficiency and diversify  the nation’s economy.

Prince Ikonne described the NYSC as a veritable platform to harness the skills of Corps Members for self-employment and national development.

He added that NALDA had designed a programme, titled; ‘Back to Farm’, where Corps Members would be actively engaged in agricultural training in a conducive environment with  necessary incentives.

He also said the programme would enable Corps Members to engage in profitable mechanized Farming.

Prince Ikonne said that the authority was aware of NYSC Farms across the country which would serve as training ground for Corps members.

In one the visits of the NALDA boss to the Senate, the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan commended the Federal government Back to Farm initiative by NALDA.

Lawan expressed delight at the resurgence of NALDA. He said that the National Assembly would engage her constituencies to embrace the Back to Farm initiative.

He urged NALDA to develop a system whereby the farmers would have ready and steady market to sell their Agricultural produce.

Prince Ikonne appealed to the lawmakers to engage their constituents by providing Lands in all LGAs of the Federation, for the program.

He explained that farm lands across the Nation will be prepared in clusters and cultivated using farm technologies and sustained  by the Agency for the benefit of the growing Population.

During his visit to Katsina State, Prince Ikonne said NALDA would engage thousands of Nigerian youths across the country in agricultural production to enhance food security and economic diversification.

He explained that in the pilot phase of the program, the agency had carefully selected 14 states where it will train 100 youths in three Local Government Areas each on various forms of agricultural production.

He said the pilot states were selected from the six geo-political zones of the country, in collaboration with state Governors and Traditional Leaders.

Prince Ikonne also indicated that more states would be engaged in subsequent phases of the programme to maximise its impact on the economy.

He noted that: “the essence of the programme is to engage as many Nigerian youths as possible by giving them enabling environment and empowering them with skills and tools to handle the business aspect of farming”.

“This will enable farmers to get value for their produce, and the global economic trend warrants that we call on everybody to go back to farm.

The NALDA boss said “in this project, we will engage institutions, corporate bodies, governments, and individuals to lease their land that is not in use so that we could put it to use in a way that will contribute to economic productivity and youth empowerment”.

While at the Government House in Katsina, the NALDA team held a closed-door meeting with Governor, Aminu Bello Masari.

While briefing newsmen after the meeting, the governor said Katsina State government will provide agricultural land for NALDA for the purpose of training and engaging youths in agricultural production.

He noted “80% of our people are farmers and we have projected that our engagement with NALDA will create more jobs for our people while also boosting the rural economy”.

In Abia State, Prince Ikonne said NALDA would collaborate with faith based organizations in the country to boost food production.

He announced this at the Catholic Cathedral of Aba, Abia State during an advocacy visit to the Cathilic Bishop of Aba Diocese, the Most Reverend Augustine Echema.

Prince Ikonne said 14 states including Abia had been selected as pilot states for the launch of the back to farm initiative of the federal government, aimed at encouraging every household in the nation to embrace farming.

He, however, urged faith based organizations to take advantage of agricultural programs of federal government to create employment, empower and engage youths meaningfully in productive ventures.



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